Henry Suso and Richard Rolle: Devotional Mobility and Translation in Late-Medieval England and Germany

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Henry Suso and Richard Rolle: Devotional Mobility and Translation in Late-Medieval England and Germany

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Title: Henry Suso and Richard Rolle: Devotional Mobility and Translation in Late-Medieval England and Germany
Author: Rozenski, Steven Peter
Citation: Rozenski, Steven Peter. 2012. Henry Suso and Richard Rolle: Devotional Mobility and Translation in Late-Medieval England and Germany. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Henry Suso (c. 1295-1366) and Richard Rolle (c. 1300-1349) were two of the most popular authors in late-medieval England and Germany: their Latin works survive in hundreds of manuscripts owned by both lay and religious readers across Europe. Authority and exemplarity are central to their works, both writers present themselves as eponymous characters in their works, creating "pseudo-autobiographies" which offer their author-characters to the reader as ideal exemplars for imitation. Also central to their authorial strategy is their attention to feminine aspects of both divinity and audience; both imagine themselves as brides of Christ even as they pledge their devotion to Wisdom, a (female) combination of the Old Testament Goddess and Christ incarnate. The imagery of courtly love is employed both as an enticement for readers and as a natural extension of their internalization of the allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs; their claims to bear the name of Jesus on their heart lead to iconographic crossover in representations of Rolle in English manuscripts. Music and aurality are repeatedly employed as a fundamental aspect of their descriptions of mystical experience. Suso was read widely in late-medieval England, both in Latin and in English translation; as his popularity grew, so too did his influence on English literature and theology. The chapters of the Horologium Sapientiae on the Eucharist and the art of dying well proved especially popular. Two Carthusians, Nicholas Love and the author of the Speculum Devotorum, for instance, both drew on Suso's treatment of the Eucharist in reinforcing orthodox beliefs surrounding the sacrament of the altar – yet a recently-discovered independent translation of the same text is found in a manuscript otherwise containing Lollard tracts. Suso's liturgy in honor of Eternal Wisdom proved his most popular and enduring contribution to English literature: it entered Sarum Use Books of Hours by the end of the fifteenth century and was printed in English translation towards the end of the sixteenth.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10370569
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